Never let it be said that science fiction and fantasy cannot soothe the savage beast of boredom. Just look at these recently-released speculative fiction titles. You're sure to find something to spice up your reading pile...

Adrift by Rob Boffard

Have you ever been on a vacation that took a turn for the worse? You might think that such things couldn't happen in the future, where a luxury resort called Sigma Station in the far reaches of space seems like the perfect getaway. You'd be wrong, though. Just check out the unfortunate events that happen in Adrift, Rob Boffard's new space adventure. When a handful of passengers visiting this secluded getaway take a tour of the Horsehead Nebula, catastrophe strikes the hotel. Sigma Station and everyone on it is destroyed when they are attacked by a mysterious ship, leaving the tour group stranded without food and water. Worse, the enemy ship is hunting them down to finish the job.

Dive Smack by Demetra BrodskyThe protagonist of Brodsky's debut novel is Theo, an expert high school swimmer, who was orphaned when a fire destroyed his home — a blaze he started accidentally. Most of the events from that fateful night are blocked out Theo's memories. He's even recovered to the point where his grades are good and he's become the captain of the school diving team. But then a school family history project resurfaces his memories of that horrific night which, in turn, trigger a series of visions about the future. What Theo sees is that events may not have transpired as he's been told. Dive Smack is getting lots of buzz and its psychological thriller vibe makes it an accessible science fiction novel for people who might be new to the genre.

Continue reading >


 

Buying Timeby E.M. Brown

I like stories that give you a do-over at life. In Buying Time, screenwriter Ed Richie gets such a chance when he wakes up one morning in 2017 to find that he's been shunted backwards in time nine months, to 2016, and is now inhabiting the body of his younger self. But Ed's ride isn't over yet! The next day he jumps three years, to 2013, with all of his memories of the subsequent years intact. Cut to the year 2030 and journalist Ella Croft, who is investigating the mysterious disappearance of celebrated writer Ed Richie, who disappeared in 2025. Brown's backwards-time-travelling protagonist is an excellent vehicle for a page-turning character-driven story.

The Synapse Sequence by Daniel Godfrey

Our technological future may not be all it's cracked up to be, if Godfrey's new futuristic thriller The Synapse Sequencehas anything to say about it. It's set in a future London where humans are continually watched over by AIs and served by bots. Justice and employment are determined by computer algorithms and that has resulted in unprecedented social inequality. In this dark future, investigator Anna Glover is trying to keep a low profile after becoming the scapegoat for an unpopular war. She spends her time investigating low-profile cases and leverages a so-called synapse sequencer—a device that allows her to enter the memories of witnesses. Anna's latest case will offer her a chance for atonement…if it doesn't kill her first.

The Testament of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

Norse myth comes to life once again in Harris' sequel to The Gospel of Loki. Here, the adventures of the trickster god Loki continue when he finds a way to avoid Ragnarok—that's the end of the world to mortals like you and me—with a plan to restart the power of the Norse gods. Loki leverages a computer game to escape oblivion, but he finds himself cohabitating the mind of a present-day teenage girl named Jumps. He's not alone in the mortal word; other Norse gods have found their own hosts. (Thor ends up in the mind of a dog. Silly Thor!) The Norse gods plan on making a comeback, but Loki has other plans. The author's plan? Delivering a tongue-in-cheek adult fantasy that's a hoot for readers.

Dark Queen Dark Queen by Faith Hunter

Former Vampire hunter Jane Yellowrock now fights alongside the vampires in Dark Queen, the latest installment of Faith Hunter's popular urban fantasy series. Jane is currently fulfilling the role of Enforcer for Leo, the vampire Master of the city of New Orleans. Her reputation and her life rely on Jane keeping their home turf safe. She will have her mettle tested when a European vampire issues a blood challenge to the Master. If Leo loses the challenge, then the city of New Orleans becomes forfeit.

Bandwidth by Eliot Peper

The unconventional hero of Eliot Peper's technothriller is Dag Calhoun, a rising star at a preeminent political lobbying firm representing some of the world's most powerful technology and energy executives. After almost losing his life in a drive-by shooting, Dag is thrust into the world of secret power players. These are the type of people who can hack into your personal digital feed—not a secure as everyone is led to believe—in order to alter world events by manipulating markets and controlling governments. Going public with news of a shadow war is not an option, so Dag takes matters into his own hands. Peper's fast-moving thriller strikes a good balance between fast action, believable plot and interesting characters and is worth a look.

Free Chocolate by Amber Royer

Quick! What's Earth's most valuable commodity in the future? Wrong. It's chocolate. It's so valuable, that other beings in the galaxy are willing to kill to get it. Earth, already rife with fear ever since aliens were discovered, also becomes the economic target of said aliens. Culinary arts student Bo Benitez aims to disrupt the system, so she plans to steal a cacao pod from one of the heavily-defended plantations. Unfortunately, she gets caught and becomes a fugitive from justice. Her opposition includes her alien-boyfriend-with-a-hidden-past and a reptilian cop. Also, three words that may help you decide if this lighthearted space adventure is your cup of tea: laser monkey robots. I thought so.

John DeNardo is the founding editor of SF Signal, a Hugo Award-winning science fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews. You can follow him on Twitter as @sfsignal.